Work­ers see red oover salary in­crease

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

TEYATEYANENG — Work­ers at­tend­ing May Day com­mem­o­ra­tions at Teyateyaneng LECSA Pri­mary School on Mon­day warned gov­ern­ment would see their “true colours” if they do not get the 10 per­cent salary in­crease rec­om­mended by the Wages Ad­vi­sory Board.

The gov­ern­ment, through Labour and Em­ploy­ment Min­is­ter Thulo Mahlak­eng, has ap­proved an eight-per­cent min­i­mum wage in­crease for work­ers in the pri­vate sec­tor for the 2016/2017 fi­nan­cial year against 10 per­cent pro­posed by the Board.

The Board com­prises 12 trade union­ists and 10 representatives from em­ploy­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions. The Min­istry’s Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary and Labour Com­mis­sioner are chair­per­son and sec­re­tary of the Board, re­spec­tively.

Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Lekhetho Rakuoane, Health Min­is­ter ’Molotsi Monya­mane, Gen­der, Youth, Sports and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Mathi­beli Mokhothu and Ed­u­ca­tion Deputy Min­is­ter Tha­bang Kholumo, were at Mon­day’s com­mem­o­ra­tion and came un­der fire from the work­ers who ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of be­ing “in­con­sid­er­ate” by “uni­lat­er­ally” ap­prov­ing the eight-per­cent across-the-board in­crease.

Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane, who ad­dressed the work­ers on be­half of Labour and Em­ploy­ment Min­is­ter Thulo Mahlak­eng, said the in­crease would be ef­fec­tive from 1 April.

How­ever, the min­is­ter said he was sorry the in­crease had not re­flected in the work­ers’ salaries last month due to a de­lay in pub­lish­ing a gov­ern­ment gazette stip­u­lat­ing the new wages but was con­tin­u­ously in­ter­rupted as the crowd de­manded to know by how much the salaries had been in­creased.

“A gazette re­gard­ing new min­i­mum wages for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year was pub­lished late due to un­avoid­able cir­cum­stances and we are sorry for that. How­ever, that pub­li­ca­tion was made on Fri­day, 29 April 2016.

“Mem­bers of the Wages Ad­vi­sory Board know about the challenges we went through and which con­trib­uted to the de­lay. To avoid con­fu­sion, please be aware that the in­creased wages start with ef­fect from 1 April 2016,” the min­is­ter said.

How­ever, the work­ers were more in­ter­ested in know­ing the in­crease and kept in­ter­rupt- ing Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane in his speech, shout­ing: “We de­mand 10 per­cent, noth­ing else!”

But the min­is­ter would not re­veal by how much the salaries had been in­creased, and sim­ply said: “I hear your con­cerns. This is straight talk, but I would like to pro­ceed to the next item…”

The work­ers also held plac­ards with mes­sages de­mand­ing the 10 per­cent pay hike.

Le­sotho Labour Coun­cil deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, Se­abata Likoti, also ad­dressed the min­is­ters re­gard­ing the work­ers’ con­cerns dur­ing Mon­day’s gath­er­ing.

“Dear hon­ourable min­is­ters, we would like to tell you today that if our beloved coali­tion gov­ern­ment has not in­creased the work­ers’ salaries by 10 per­cent, like it was rec­om­mended by the Board (Wages Ad­vi­sory Board), we are go­ing to show the gov­ern­ment who we are.

“We will re­veal our true colours as it seems the gov­ern­ment is in­con­sid­er­ate to our needs. We can­not take it any­more. The ve­hi­cle we are driv­ing is un­stop­pably go­ing for­ward.”

Mr Likoti yes­ter­day re­it­er­ated the work­ers’ de­mands for a higher salary in­crease and told the Le­sotho Times: “The rea­son why you saw the work­ers hold­ing plac­ards that de­manded a 10 per­cent salary in­crease was be­cause we had been in­formed that the Board’s rec­om­men­da­tion was uni­lat­er­ally ig­nored by the (Labour and Em­ploy­ment) min­is­ter.

“We are not happy about this. Now that we of­fi­cially know that the in­crease is less than the 10 per­cent we want, we have de­cided to en­gage in full force in the up­com­ing stay-away (which has been sched­uled for 12 May) and demon­stra­tion against the gov­ern­ment. We are not go­ing to stop demon­strat­ing un­til our voices have been heard.”

Mean­while, the In­de­pen­dent Demo­cratic Union of Le­sotho (IDUL) had writ­ten to the Board de­mand­ing a 40 per­cent min­i­mum wage in­crease for its mem­bers.

The union rea­soned in the let­ter signed by its gen­eral sec­re­tary, So­long Senohe, that the prices of food, paraf­fin, trans­port and cloth­ing had in­creased and the work­ers were find­ing it dif­fi­cult to cope with their mea­gre salaries hence the de­mand for the 40 per­cent pay hike.

Mr Senohe was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment on the is­sue and the way for­ward.

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